Our 2020 Sheffield Half Marathon runners

On Sunday 29 March 2020 thousands of runners of all abilities will be taking part in the Sheffield Half Marathon, a major event in the UK’s running calendar. With a city centre start and finish, a huge crowd of enthusiastic supporters will cheer participants out and back. The event boasts a stunningly scenic route with majestic views of the Peak District on the climb to Ringinglow.

Meet some of the colleagues taking part in this year’s challenge, find out how they’ve been preparing and why they’re passionate about fundraising for Parkinson’s Disease research at our University. 

Jennie Maris - NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre

“I've never ran a half-marathon before; never ran anything to note to be honest. Apart from one winter, when I met up with some of the guys from SITraN to have a jog up Mam Tor. The whole route was covered in snow, I didn’t end up running that much of it, and there was a pub stop halfway through. But I loved it. I signed up for the Sheffield Half Marathon in late January. I found a training plan online which matched my beginner needs, and have pretty much stuck to it so far (bar a bad week a couple of weeks ago where I lost all motivation). I’m feeling good again now, and more determined than ever to prove I can complete the run! I find training, whether in the gym or outside, is such a good way to unwind. I just put on a good playlist and then everything melts away. In the New Year I volunteered to walk dogs for my local kennels on a weekend; now I take one for a run in the Peaks on a Sunday. (We also now own one of the rescue dogs I used to borrow; I fell in love with her and just couldn’t take her back!)

“I am part of the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre; the only Centre in the UK dedicated to Neurology. I passionately believe that we can lead the way in improving the treatment, and care of, those living with chronic neurological conditions. Only through research can we do this. My grandmother lived with Parkinson’s disease for over 20 years of her life; having passed away at the end of last year, to be running the Half Marathon in support of this disease is pretty special. I hope my family, friends and work colleagues will get behind me (and greet me at the finish line!) to raise money for this cause. My office colleagues don't have much faith in me - a couple think I’ll be getting the bus back to the finish line…but I am determined to not only complete the race, but also finish in a reasonable time. As long as I beat a friend's time of 2hrs 50mins I’ll be happy; 2hrs 30 and I’ll be ecstatic!”

Jennie's Just Giving page

Jennie Maris with her dog

Sara Bacon - National Tech Development Centre Manager - University Secretary’s Office

“I'm running the Sheffield half marathon as I recently did the Sheffield 10K and had a fantastic time and wanted to challenge myself to run a longer distance. I usually only run 5K in the gym and the challenge of running a longer outside run both excited and scared me! I wanted to raise funds for Parkinson's research as this, together with many illnesses, requires concentration of efforts to help find a cure. I unfortunately lost my dad in 2016 to CJD a degenerative brain disease and wanted to help and give back in any way I can. Good luck to all taking part!”

Sara's Just Giving page

Susan Bridgeford - Director of Student Support Services

“My main motivation for entering was because it is raising money for Parkinson's Disease research. I lost my Dad rather suddenly last September a year after he had been diagnosed with Parkinsons. It's a horrible disease and it was sad and unpleasant seeing him gradually decline.

“I have run numerous half and full marathons in the past but generally need a race to get me motivated and I was very unfit at the start of the year and looking for a motivation to get back out there. This seemed irresistible for all these reasons.”

Eric Bohun - Car Park Operations Assistant - Campus Services

“I'm running again out of habit; to give me a focal point to build some extra gym fitness; to help Estates and Facilities Management (EFM) gain status within the University, to help combat Parkinson's disease (I'm afraid that our NHS is facing terrible pressures and really want to help public health - have stopped saying that public health should be paid for just by tax); I'm also running to encourage others to run - RUN EVERYONE!; I'm running because I don't talk a lot and charity races are a way of signalling to colleagues that I'm pro-social; I'm also running because I've got a lot of the running t-shirts and want more - heard that this one might be green. I'll raise £285 this time. My back has been much better and might be one of the faster runners this time, was the fastest once, not so long ago, but I've been a bit too busy to train much this year.”

Eric's Just Giving page

Eric Bohun

Bryony Black - PGDE Tutor - School of Education

“I ran the "old" Sheffield Half Marathon a couple of times a long time ago, but since the route changed I lost my nerve a bit. It wasn't so much fear of running up that endless hill as worries about my knees snapping on the way back down! Somehow, the lure of a team event and raising money for a cause that is close to my heart (my lovely neighbour was diagnosed with Parkinson's in his mid-50s) has led to me agreeing to give it a go this year.

“Training has been going well so far despite the slightly bonkers weather (or perhaps because of it - I always feel like a serious runner if I go out in the pouring rain), and I'm looking forward to a great atmosphere on the day.”

Bryony's Just Giving page

Bryony Black

Sarah Leather - Senior Financial Services Assistant - Income Office

“I really enjoy exercising, however I don't often push out of my comfort zone... I usually don't venture out of a warm gym so training in the horrible weather this year has taken some getting used to! I ran my first half marathon in Liverpool last March (in rain, sleet and high winds...) and have decided to challenge myself with the Sheffield one! I am quite nervous about the many hills on the route but I am very excited to be running on the University team and to be raising money for such a wonderful cause.”

Sarah's Just Giving page

Sarah Leather

Bob Stern - Professor - Department of Philosophy

“I am really pleased to be able to run for a University of Sheffield team again, which always makes the event more fun. And as in previous years, this is another very worthwhile cause.

“Friends, family and colleagues have been very generous in offering their support. My only worry now is backache, which I hope will be fixed in time for the event.”

Bob's Just Giving page

Bob Stern

David Barrott - Senior International Student Advisor - International Student Support

“I have got more into running in the last 18 months or so, being very much an occasional runner before that. After doing my first couple of 10Ks at the back end of 2019, it did seem like the next logical step to challenge myself over a longer distance. Although, I was still very non-committal about the Half Marathon if anyone asked whether I would run it!

“When I found out the University's team was raising money for Parkinson's, that resonated a lot with me as my Grandma was affected by it before she passed away a few years ago. This is what inspired me to join. I'm still building up the long hill in the first half of the run in my mind, but I am sure the training I have been doing around Sheffield will stand me in good stead on the day!”

David's Just Giving page

David Barrott


We are really excited to be supporting the University’s Parkinson’s Disease appeal through our Community Fundraising this year. Parkinson’s Disease currently affects around 145,000 people in the UK - that’s around one in every 350 adults. There is currently no cure and no way to stop the disease from getting any worse. Here in Sheffield, our researchers are playing a leading role in the search for new treatments that tackle the disease itself - not just the symptoms - and keep patients well for longer. All of your fundraising will help support this vitally important work.

Feeling inspired to take on a fundraising challenge of your own? Be part of the University’s biggest fundraising event and join this year’s Big Walk on Friday 3 July 2020. Check out our fundraising calendar for other ways to get involved this year.

Sign up for the Big Walk 2020

Our fundraising calendar of events